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Awake at the Whisk: October 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Baked Fish Sandwich with Heirloom Tomato & Paprika Aioli

I couldn’t wait to eat one of the few Pink Brandywine tomatoes that blessed my garden. Short of biting into it like an apple, I knew my husband would desire more in his meal than ‘just’ a tomato. Inspired by long-past memories of BLT’s, this sandwich kicks it up a notch with spicy aioli instead of plain old mayonnaise. Instead of boring lettuce, I’ve used crispy cabbage. Instead of caloric bacon, I chose heart-healthy fish fillets. The result exceeded my food memories, filling my mouth with joy. Welcome to a new classic!

2 small fish fillets
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon each of coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper
4 slices rustic, whole grain bread
4 Tablespoons organic mayonnaise
Juice from ½ a lime
¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 large heirloom tomato, sliced thickly
½ cup red cabbage cut into thin strips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse fish fillets and lay them in a baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Lightly toast 4 slices of bread.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, black pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Spread about one tablespoonful on each slice of bread. Top two bread slices with the baked fish, and then top the fish with one giant, thick slice of tomato. Add the cabbage, top each sandwich with a final slice of bread, and enjoy!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008


My Big, Pink Happiness

NASA, we have watermelon!

Okay, so I’m about a month late in sharing my news. But, since a giant, happy melon still sits on the vine waiting to bring life to my kitchen, I think my timing is adequate.

First, allow me to marvel at what a joy a watermelon is! From a tiny seedling no larger than a banana, in the blink of an eye, colossal green orbs are mounding up across the yard, spreading to occupy what feels like half the garden.

I was finally blessed with ripe melons once I waited for the leaves around the stem to turn brown. I thought my first, unripe melon was heavy, but my ripe melon was no comparison! That sucker weighed at least twice as much as my cat… so, 25 lbs? Is that possible? (I wish I had a scale.) When I plunked it down in the sink for a rinsing, my entire sink moved. That’s right! The weight of the thing nearly knocked my sink loose from the countertop (and this is a new, rock solid countertop, not an ancient one). I have never in my life seen a kitchen sink move, but this watermelon brought it to a shake.

Aside from its massiveness, I found another surprise in my hulking fruit. I placed (or, rather, dropped) it on my cutting board. Using my longest, thickest knife, I prepared for a major cutting event. As I began to plunge my knife into the green flesh, I jumped—afraid—like a child holding a balloon that pops.

Pow! My watermelon exploded, ripping open from end to end—all from a mere piercing. Only a short inch of the tip of my knife had met with the melon, yet upon impact, it exploded with release, bursting with the freshness that only a newly picked watermelon can produce. All that pent up ripeness just waiting to feed me.

That watermelon explosion might be one of my favorite kitchen experiences! It’s such an adrenaline-filled moment, totally out of the ordinary from the usual cutting and chopping routine. And it never gets old—even when I know it’s coming. It always shocks me, as I jump backward, afraid I’m being fired upon from the kitchen counter top.

In fact, I have been known to hand the knife over when visitors are present for the surgery. “No, really, you do the honors,” I insist. Then I clap like a school girl as I watch them jump away when the explosion occurs.

This experience, however, cannot outweigh the shear joy of that first, crisp bite. The firm fruit of a garden-grown, freshly picked watermelon is incomparable to anything you’ll find in the supermarket. Each bite crunches smoothly, while your throat is coated with sweet liquid. Refreshing. Reviving. Crisp heaven in a giant, green orb.

Garden watermelon: this is my big, pink happiness.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Cooking Light: Why Don't I Marry It?

I hear his footsteps coming up the front porch. I hold my breath. I am motionless with anticipation. Clomp. Clomp. Up one step. Then the next. Finally! He reaches the door. Through a crack in the window blinds, I see his tall figure. I hear the creak of the mail slot, the swish of a letter dropping inside. Who cares about a letter?! I want the REAL goods, Mr. Mailman. I wait for it. Then I hear the awaited “thud” of heavy paper hitting the ground in front of my door. The mailman retreats back down the steps and across the yard. That’s when I make my leap. I throw open the door, shout a polite “Thank you!” and scoop up the precious Cooking Light Magazine he has delivered just for me.

I wipe the drool from my lip as I stare lovingly at the front cover image: this month, a “sweet and easy apple pancake” shown under a light drizzle of powdered sugar and nestled in a rustic cast iron skillet. A large headline is stamped proudly next to it: “Fresh from the farmer’s market.” Oh, Cooking Light. I love you!

Cooking Light’s motto reflects my own: “Eat Smart. Be Fit. Live Well.” Its contents contain everything I need to feed my passion for food and my quest for healthy food knowledge. I want to know how to put better foods in my body and incorporate them in my recipes. Each issue provides the latest nutrition research, detailed information on the healthful benefits of featured foods, and of course, recipes that put this knowledge to work. They also include a section called “Lighten Up,” taking readers’ high-fat family recipes (often desserts or cheesy entrees) and making them more figure-friendly without eliminating the flavor.

The magazine also provides fitness tips, a section titled “Enlightened Traveler,” wine pairing, and even green living tips to update your home.

My idea of a perfect day includes sitting back on my lounge chair, sipping a hot chai, and slowly digesting every word of this wonderful magazine. My husband, if he’s in the same room while I’m reading, must also endure my constant interruptions. “Honey, did you know…” “Honey, this says…” “Hey, listen to this!” Quote after quote pour from my mouth as I learn something new on every page and am driven to share each gem of knowledge with the person that I love—and feed.

Cooking Light inspires me to change the way I eat and live, while empowering me to actually implement the knowledge I have gained from its pages. I subscribed to my first weekly farm produce box because of Cooking Light. I was motivated to limit the amount of salt I use in recipes. I have explored new whole grains, like quinoa. I have even planned weekend trips to locally owned cheese factories based on their articles.

My feelings for Cooking Light certainly go beyond a junior high crush. I love it so much, I surely could marry it. And like any mature relationship, my life has been utterly enriched by my engagement with this magazine.

So what are you waiting for?! Go get yourself a subscription already!

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